Ohio Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Sex Offender Labels Are 'Cruel and Unusual'

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The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether it's cruel and unusual punishment to label as a sex offender a 21-year-old man who was convicted after what he said was a consensual sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports on arguments in the case heard this week.

Travis Blankenship of Clark County was labeled a sex offender - a mandatory sentence under Ohio law for his 2012 conviction for having sex with a minor. His attorney Katherine Ross Kinzie told the court a psychologist determined Blankenship isn't likely to reoffend, so that sentence is unconstitutionally harsh.

"The registration for 25 years - everything that goes along with his Senate Bill 10 requirements to be classified and register as a sex offender."

But Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Saunders says Blankenship pleaded guilty, so the label and its requirements are appropriate.

"Mr. Blankenship committed a crime. He was 21. He had sex with a 15 year old. And as part of that, he's a sex offender."

Ohio is one of 17 states that enacted the mandatory sex offender label after passage of a federal law in 2006. Ohio's supreme court would be the first to rule on it.

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